Citizens for the Integrity of Science
1155 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 300
Washington, Dc 20036
March 27, 2001
Sen. Harry Reid
528 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Sen. Reid:
We urge you to take immediate action concerning radiation levels inside the U.S. Capitol building and outside the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building that may exceed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency radiation protection standards.
This letter summarizes our findings about the radiation levels, and more information is available in the enclosed copy of our study, “Radiation Sources at the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress Buildings.”
We measured gamma radiation dose rates at several locations in and around the Capitol and the Thomas Jefferson Building. Dose rates inside the Capitol and outside the Thomas Jefferson Building were measured at 30 microrem per hour. This dose rate:
(1) exceeds local background radiation dose rates;
(2) is up to 550 percent greater than the typical dose rate “at the fence line” around nuclear power plants;
(3) is about 13,000 times greater than the average individual dose rate from worldwide nuclear power production;
(4) exceeds the dose rate associated with the radiation protection standards proposed for the Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste facility.
The measured dose rate may be associated with up to a 0.5 percent increase in cancer risk, according to U.S. EPA risk assessment methods.
We are aware of your concern for protecting the public from radiation hazards. At the recent confirmation hearing for Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman, you expressed concern that the Bush Administration might rollback the standards for Yucca Mountain proposed by the EPA in 1999.
In contrast to the exposure scenarios for Yucca Mountain that extend 10,000 years into the future, the radiation dose rates we measured are ongoing – and so are the potential hazards.
We urge you to request a comprehensive radiation survey of the Capitol and Library of Congress buildings. If warranted, radiation hazard signs might be posted where appropriate until hazardous radiation sources can be removed and disposed in accordance with hazardous waste regulations.
Thank you for your prompt attention.
Steven J. Milloy, M.H.S., J.D.
Michael Gough, Ph.D.
Alan M. Hantman, Architect of the Capitol
Sen. Robert Smith, Chairman, Environment and Public Works Committee
Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency